Overall, I was quite disappointed with the handling of social and ethical issues in this report. Did the working group have the participation of any social scientists that specialize in nanotechnology? From my perspective, several important areas were missed in this analysis.

  1. The relationship between developments in nanotechnology and heightened surveillance. For example, see a paper I have written on “nano panopticism”.

  2. The relationship between nanotechnology and economic impacts. Also, a more detailed analysis on intellectual property issues.

  3. The adequacy of current regulations and regulatory frameworks for dealing with nanotechnology. For a discussion on this issue see http://www.arts.usask.ca/policynut/mehta-nus-paper.pdf

  4. The links between nanotechnology and innovation, and the role of so-called “triple helix” partners (e.g., university, state, industry”) in funding, marketing, regulating discoveries in nanoscience and applications. See http://www.arts.usask.ca/policynut/bsts-nano.pdf

I trust that future analyses of these, and other issues, will be incorporated in repeated iterations of your working group’s considerations.

Michael D. Mehta, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, Sociology of Biotechnology Program
Director, Social Research Unit
Department of Sociology
University of Saskatchewan